Next business to put on the Eastside's Sustainability Stage is Local Eastside company .
They are more than a supplier of products but also a partner to Puget Sound businesses that help put the most efficient work environments in place. Read on to find out how efficiency and sustainability go hand in hand in this family-owned business.
Let's first introduce the cast. Meet the president and daughter of the founder, Lisa Keeney-McCarthy. The business has been in her family for 65 years. Next, meet the General Manager, Steven Sterne. He has been working with Lisa for the last 24 years. They literally can finish each other's business sentences. Then add about 30 employees.
The setting is a warehouse, adjoining office and about six active trucks on the road each week-day. Finally add in a NW backdrop and natural resource awareness attitude and the show is ready.
And what is the output of this family-owned, heavily NW-influenced, company equate to? The crew behind Keeney's were early adopters of sustainability, both in customer outreach and operations.
"This early adoption of sustainability comes from both a basic belief in conservation and a focus on sustainable business practices that also saves money," Keeney-McCarthy said.
Some ways the company works to be more sustainable are reusing boxes and remanufacturing toner cartridges. Another sustainable element that makes Keeney's unique is they are strong in the ergonomic category. They can recommend products to the individual, almost to the point of doing what Sterne calls, an "Ergonomic Evaulation." This also gives real value to the business as healthy employers are more productive. And speaking of customers, that brings us to....
Keeney's approach for involving their customers in sustainability is casual and when the customer is asking for it. "We are not the green, Nazis," Keeney-McCarthy quickly points out.
The company works with customers where they are. For some companies, these practices have not yet been mandated, but employees will be interested.
"We help in baby steps, for example, here are some samples to look at," Keeney-McCarthy said. And sometimes they can find creative ways to offset the costs of using post-consumer products, such as by printing double-sided on post-consumer paper.
What other sustainable solutions do they offer their customers?
- Best sustainable solution. The company prides itself in making sure it is sustainable in the context of the customer's need. "(It's) not just what has the green label on it," Sterne said. "For many customers that may mean rechargeable batteries are best, but for this other customer, that might mean bulk packed alkaline batteries."
- Integrated green style. "Green products are just another standard product," Keeney-McCarthy said. They are integrated into the main focus of business, rather than being boutique item. This keeps the cost down.
- Transportation has flexible routings. Trucks don't waste gas.
- Customer education. Helping customers stock and order more efficiently allows fewer invoice processing and truck stops. This saves money for the customer along with being green.
As with many Eastside businesses, Keeney's does the usual recycling and food scrap recycling. It is essentially a zero-waste facility. Waste Management recently came out and assessed everything that was going into the garbage, was was indeed non-recyclable. Here is a run down of other green practices in their operations:
- Styrofoam Peanuts: They collect from customers and on-site, and then give them to another Eastside business that uses them in shipping.
- CFL lightbulbs Take-Backs: Still the office mainstay in lightbulbs (Sterne gives the market about 2 years until LEDs will become major contenders), CFL lightbulbs have a mercury component and are an important item to be disposed of correctly.
- Waste reduction: Since 2011, Keeney's has reduced garbage output by 75 percent.
- Buying green energy from PSE: This program was set-up by local company Cascade Power Group.
- Keurig k-cups (pods): They ship them back to Keurig, where what material can be composted is composted and the rest is turned into biomass energy.
- Stopped use of "single-use bottles": Employees now have reusable water bottles. Reusable dishes are kept in the break rooms.
- Eastside Green Business Challenge participant
What does it mean to be early adopters of sustainability? According to the Eastside Green Business Challenge, it is to be already "finding success in the fields of cost savings, resource conservation and brand recognition."
For a company to still be in business for 65 years is sustainability in itself. Keeney's knows what it takes to keep up with the times. They get it! Sustainability doesn't have to be anything eloborate and it doesn't have to be the expensive boutique option. Being sustainable can simply be the efficient, cost-saving and good for the environment solution.
Let's hear it for another great local business in the show of Eastside Sustainability! Next act up, Kermit the frog sings.....